The Choice

A short play

P. RAJA

THE CHOICE

 

Characters

King Deva

Queen Madhana

Brahma, King’s Friend

Queen Mother

Town crier

Passer-by.

SCENE ONE

(The Palace. King Deva is seen relaxing in a rocking chair and engrossed in a book he was holding close to his chest. His lips are mumbling out undecipherable words for a time, and then closing the book with still his thumb as a book mark, laughs hysterically awhile and then opens the book to continue reading. This time he reads with only his eyes for a time and then laughs again silently.)

Deva:               What a poet! What a book of love poems! When wine goes in, wisdom comes out,                          they say. But when loves goes in, it is poetry that comes out. Exquisitely                                        chiselled  poems. Every poem in this book reveals the poet’s admiration for his                                   sweet heart’s beauty. Just one read…And the  poem gets glued to one’s mind. Let                          me repeat what I have read and enjoyed just  now.

 (He shuts closed the book and then looks at his queen getting dressed in the anti-                            chamber. He recites from his memory).

“Do not come so close to me, O beauty!

If you want me to lend you my ears.

At close quarters,

my inquisitive eyes,

as if propelled by a sensor

Start roving, around you.’

Your ivory teeth vie with

the splendour and radiance of your skin.

Your wavy, shiny black hair

Puts black velvet to shame.

 

Your doe eyes and quivering brows

Teach me lessons in love.

 

Your beaming face with that cute little nose

Casts a spell and muffles my words.

Don’t you know now, my doe, my dove,

Why I go dumb and deaf

When you want me to speak to you

Or listen to your whispering voice?”

 

(The queen listening to her husband reciting the poem, comes closer to him, hugs him tight, showers kisses all over his face and seals his lips with hers. Seconds later…)

Madhana:        I never knew you have so much love for me. I am really blessed to have a poet for             my husband.

Deva:              (aside) Huh! She mistook me as the author of the poem. So let it be…till she picks up the book to read. (to his queen) oh! At your very sight, my dear lady, my doe,   my dove, even the dumb will play with words and weave them into a beautiful         poem, for you are the poem in flesh and blood.

Madhana:        (blushing) How come, my dear, you never uttered a poetic line in all these days      of my marriage with you… say nearly a month we were in my parental home.           But now all for a sudden you spurt into poetry.

Deva:               That’s because I did not read this book before.

Madhana:        Book! What book?

Deva:               Hm…ah..book? Yes, book…Ah…you are the book.

Madhana:        (blushing) As if you have read every leaf in me.

Deva:               I read you every night and not many nights have gone by since we became             husband and wife. Still several leaves remain unturned.

Madhana:        For the first time your words are tinged with poetry. Where did you learn them?

Deva:               (Aside) All from Kaaladevan. (to the queen) All from every move of your limb.      You are beauty incarnate.

(Madhana hugs him. The light begins to fade as they become one body with two heads vying with each other to merge.)

(Curtain)

 

SCENE TWO

(Palace orchard. Brahma is seen sitting on a stone bench, all the time dreaming and smiling to himself. He has a blade of grass in his hand, and is seen chewing and spitting. Deva enters the orchard. Brahma rushes towards him and they embrace each other.)

Brahma:           It was too long a wait, my dear, dear friend. Thank you for sending word to me of            your coming back with your wife, the queen. Without you, everyday passed like a         decade.

Deva:               Days were long but nights were short for me. There was not enough time for most             of the time passed in ogling at her. It’s a pity that the sun rushes very fast to gulp         down darkness and fertilize Mother Earth.

Brahma:           Oh! My friend! Your words put me in my place. You are married and you will       not find time for me.

Deva:               Did I ever say so? Don’t let your imagination run riot. You will be my friend         forever.

Brahma:           Nothing is forever. All relationships are of ephemeral value only. What is a             flower to a plant or a plant to a flower, when it withers away? What is a tree to its         roots or roots to the tree, when the tree is felled?

Deva:               (laughs) Philosophising, eh? No philosophy is worth any cup of wine. Come           down to earth.

Brahma:           A newly married man has no time for friends.

Deva:               True! All my waking hours are spent in looking at the stunning beauty I married.

Brahma:           (mischievously smiles and nods his head in different directions as an expression       of joy).

Deva:               You should see her to find out the truth of the matter.

Brahma:           I saw her.

Deva:               (Surprised & shocked) Saw her? When?

Brahma:       On the day of your marriage…Since I was with you most of the time, your wife         knows me very well.

Deva:               (laughs whole-heartedly) The way you saw her is different from the way I want     you to see her.

Brahma:           (looks askance at him) Not quite clear.

Deva:               I want you to see her as I see her every night…naked. Then you will tell me what a            lucky man I am!

Brahma:           No kidding, Deva.

Deva:               No, no, no! Believe me. You have to see her once to believe what I say of her.

Brahma:           I believe all that you say. But don’t be stupid to tell me to see you wife naked.

Deva:               Listen! Let me speak…Decide later after listening to every syllable I utter.

Brahma:           But don’t tell me anything that you alone are blessed to see.

Deva:               Shut up! Tune your mind to my words. And where shall I begin? How shall I         begin? Will words walk hand in hand with the sight I see every night?

Brahma:           (aside) Let words fail his thoughts. I will be saved of guilt…the guilt of listening    to a jingle brained husband talk of the charms of aesthetically appealing woman.

Deva:               Ah, yea! Let me begin from the bottom. Now Listen, Deva. (puffs out his chest      and clears his throat) Earthquakes are stilled in her buttocks round. The in             between hidden palace of pleasure makes my heart go athump. In addition, feather             soft lower lips ask for a thousand kisses, before it sanctions a thousand blisses.

Her navel is like a round goblet and fresh wine too tastes age old when drunk        from it—the tiny well of spring.

Her well-developed breasts, plump and high, for the entire world I do defile the    like felicity.

Her thighs and belly, shiny and soft like peacock feathers! O, where can one see    such meat! And having seen and not eaten it, would anger even god.

Plenty! Plenty! It’s god’s plenty.

Brahma:           (aside) What a carnivore I have for a friend! (to Deva) Surely it would anger even a stone.

Deva:               To believe, you have to see her.

Brahma:           Hei! Stop that nonsense. Being blessed with such a wife is untold joy. Enjoy all     that you are blessed with, in the privacy of your bed chamber.

Deva:               That’s where I want you to hide yourself and see her undress before she slips into my bedcover.

Brahma:           (expressing shock) What for, Deva?

Deva:               What’s life worth unless I have someone to envy me?

Brahma:           There can be no envy or jealousy between friends like us.

Deva:               Well! Well! If you do not have such things on mind, then meet me in my palace     tonight when the clock strikes ten.

Brahma:           (showing signs of anger) What if I refuse to obey you, my friend?

Deva:               You can’t afford to disobey a king, you being my menial!

Brahma:           You will banish me or what? Better be away from a king who is sick in mind.

Deva:               (laughs like a mad cap) Disobedience to the king! Your head will not be yours.      (exits)

Brahma:           Tiny Deva shared his smiles with tiny Brahma. Boy Deva allotted a certain             percentage of his goodies to boy Brahma. Adolescent Deva made adolescent             Brahma a party to his beer drinking and kissing the manna oozing lips of servant        maids, all in the secrecy of the royal garden. Wedding, I thought, would make                           Deva gain his adulthood self absorbed, egocentric and self-disciplined. But Deva has not changed. And now he wants me to share…Huh! To think of it gives me the    jitters. I do not know what future holds for me!

(Curtain)

 

SCENE THREE

(A chamber in the palace. The queen Mother is seated in a swing. A maid in waiting helps her to swing. Two other maids simply wait and watch. Enter queen Madhana. The queen Mother motions the servant to stop the movement of the swing. As the swing comes to a halt, the queen Mother with a sway of her hand signals Madhana to get on to the swing. Both sit quite close to each other, rubbing shoulders and the swing resumes its momentum.)

Mother:           How goes the world with you, young lady?

Madhana:        So so…

Mother:           Why do you say so? Aren’t you happy with my son? Isn’t he good?

Madhana:        Too good to be a king and husband.

Mother:           The marriage got consummated or not?

Madhana:        Well, Well! Queen Mother: Everything went on smoothly as expected. But…

Mother:           Tell me…oh! I understand. (She signals to all the three maids to quit the chamber.   They more out, but the swing continues to swing at the same speed)

Madhana:        Not a minute passes without Deva speaking of his friend Brahma. He seems to be all in all for him.

Mother:           That’s true. My husband, the king as you know, died an untimely death. When he             was brought back home from battlefield mortally wounded, he divulged to me a           secret, before he breathed his last…

Madhana:        (looks at the Queen Mother with wide opened eyes) Is Brahma the king’s son?

Mother:           (with her mouth agape) Clever girl…Yes! Brahma is of his loins, the result of his    spilling seeds into the womb of a court danceuse. Brahma’s mother died of      childbirth and the baby was left to the care of the chef in the royal kitchen.

Madhana:        Did the king tell you to bring Brahma to the palace and nurture him as you own     child?

Mother:           No! He only said he had a confession to make. My husband loved me with all his heart. He always opened his heart for me to see. And when he told me of Brahma,    he said ‘This is for your information’.

Madhana:        When the king died, you had only one kid. And so, you made Brahma, Deva’s      playmate. Brahma and Deva, played together, ate together, learnt from the same          teacher and right from their tiny dot days they were together. Am I right?

Mother:           Clever girl! You read the minds of people very well!

Madhana:        Nothing of that sort. My husband, the king, has only one thing in mind. And in     every sentence he speaks, one can hear the name of Brahma four times. (The    swing   gradually slows down its motion.)

Mother:           Take pity on Deva’s nerves. You will have to use all your charms to keep Deva to yourself. And it may take quite some time for Deva to forget Brahma in your           presence.

Madhana:        But Mother! Brahma seems to have used all his charms to make Deva forget all      about me. (The momentum of the swing becomes dead slow).

Mother:           That’s because Deva listens to Brahma in matters pertaining to the state. Brahma   is an excellent advisor and no wonder that Deva administers the state and its         people so beautifully well. Deva’s brain is Brahma. (The swing comes to a halt. Both of them get down from the swing.)

Madhana:        Take care, mother!

Mother:           Take care of my son. (She watches Madhana leave the chamber). Poor girl!             Without Brahma, Deva doesn’t exist. When will she understand this fact? And          when will she understand Deva? For my part, I should advise my son, not to indulge in this sort of talk about Brahma to Madhana. Perhaps she feels insecure.

(Curtain)

 

SCENE FOUR

(Night. Deva’s bed chamber. Deva is seen walking up and down the chamber, impatiently. Now and then he turns to the main door of the chamber. His face is filled with anxiety. Seconds later, he feels the touch of a cold hand on his shoulder.)

Deva:               Huh! (turning) who is this? Oh, You! My Brahma…How did you enter?

Brahma:           Through a window over there. How can I enter through the main door? I have to   be very cautious you know, not to be caught by your wife.

Deva:               (giggling) So you have come to see the charms of my wife, eh?

Brahma:           To save my head.

Deva:               (Aside) That was only a ruse to bring you here…Fine then! (The sound of footsteps              is heard. In a whispering tone to Brahma) Hurry! Hurry and hide yourself under           my cot. From   there watch the charms of my wife when she disrobes for bed.   Then when she gets on to bed, you slip away. Go home and dream. You will                         give me tomorrow a graphic description of all that you have seen in my wife. I       would love to hear from your mouth, the charms I enjoy every day.

Brahma:           (slaps his forehead incessantly as a mark of shame and helplessness) I will be         behind             that statue of Rathi and Manmatha in a tight embrace. It is also closer to            the window, through which I can make my escape. (He hides).

(Enter Queen Madhana)

Deva:               Welcome my one and only love. Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me…My hot lips crave for   the touch of yours. Give me flaming kisses three sweeter than sweet honey and I          will give you four hot as embers.

Madhana:        You have waited so long, Deva. Can’t you wait for a few more minutes until I       am ready for bed?

(She removes her dress one after the other, all the time looking mischievously at      her husband.)

Brahma:           ( Aside) What poet could trap her enviable beauty in words, when his pen   too       would like to gaze at her and forget the art of curving the letters! Her great       beauty fills me with wonder. Her adorable and covetous frame fills me with      wonder. And my poor soul thus entranced tells my vigilant eyes to go and take a   close look at her. Oh, what eyes stop with merely looking at a naked    woman? Don’t they inspire the onlooker to sprint to hold the naked in his arms?    Though her exquisite beauty stops my breath, I see a glimpse of death. It’s time to                         jump out of the window, my legs reluctant though.                                                   (He comes out of his hiding place and as he sprints towards the window,         Madhana sees him but keeps her cool. She watches him jump out of the window           and disappear.)

Deva:               (aside) Good friend! He did as he was told. Now is the time to feast upon my        lady. (to Madhana) Make haste, my beloved! Like a stormy wind that punishes the banyan tree, Love shakes my heart.

Madhana:        Not tonight, my king. What flood can drown me, when the fire in me starts            consuming me? My mind is not at rest.

Deva:               Won’t you say what you mean?

Madhana:        A virtuous wife’s most terrible pain, my Lord! It may take time for it to subside.

Deva:               Oh, Have I to moan and toss about the bed?

Madhana:        (smiles mockingly) I will be in bed by your side. But I will neither come      anywhere near you nor take you in.

Deva:               Till…

Madhana:        Till a worthier passion calls me.

(Curtain)

 

SCENE FIVE

(Next day morning. The royal library in the palace. Queen Madhana is seen browsing the books. She pulls out a big fat volume from one of the many shelves, dusts it clean and immerses her eyes into the book. Enter Brahma.)

Brahma:           I am here, your Majesty, to answer your summons.

Madhana:        (aside) What a fellow! Shows the least sign of suspicion that I knew what had       occurred on the previous night. (to Brahma) Thank you for coming at the right         hour to the right place.

Brahma:           What Can I do for you, your Majesty?

Madhana:        (looking into his eyes) There are two courses open to you. Choose between them.

Brahma:           Yes! Your Majesty! Tell this slave of yours what to do.

Madhana:        (Aside) Time is not yet ripe…you’ll soon be my slave. (to Brahma) Kill the king …

Brahma:           (shocked) Kill the king? As good as killing myself. He doesn’t exist without me.

Madhana:        One soul in two bodies? Preposterous. I know you can exist without him. So kill    the king, seize the throne, with me as your wife.

Brahma:           Or?

Madhana:        You will die on the spot.

Brahma:           What for?

Madhana:        So that you will not see what you have no right to see.

Brahma:           (bending down his head in shame) Oh! I didn’t escape your vigilant eyes when I    made my escape from the king. I plead before you…I am not guilty.

Madhana:        I know it is your blind obedience to the king. Now is the time for you to    choose…the reward or the punishment. One of you must die…either my immodest        husband, the shameless author of this wicked plot or you, who have outraged         propriety by seeing me naked.

Brahma:           (astonished to speak at first, then mustering up courage) Please… Please…I beg of   you. Do not force me to make so difficult a choice.

Madhana:        Your blind obedience to the king has forced me to do so.

Brahma:           It was not blind obedience. Deva too gave me a choice…To see you naked or lose my head. I didn’t want to lose.

Madhana:        Good choice…Make the choice again.

Brahma:           (Aside) My God! I am caught between two killers. What a predicament!

Madhana:        Choose now and think of  plot later.

Brahma:           I choose to banish myself from this kingdom and you will never see me again.

Madhana:        (laughs) Ha!… Ha!… Ha!…That is not there in my choice.  You were loyal to the    king…Good! But you have molested my modesty with your eyes. This very    thought would gnaw me and give me a slow death. I do not want to live in the             minds of two men.

Brahma:           I will forget it as a bad dream.

Madhana:        My bathing maids told me that I am a paragon of beauty…everything in its proper place. They said they found it difficult to erase my naked image from their   memory. Now you tell me you will forget it as a bad dreams That is a lie. Bad         dreams haunt the mind for a very long time than the good ones that go away after                         waking.

Brahma:           (Aside) That’s true! Sleep refused to hug me last night for my mind was holding    you in a tight embrace.

Madhana:        One of you must die….choose.

Brahma:           Well, then! I choose to die.

Madhana:        Unexpected! So be it. How would you like to die?

Brahma:           (holding her hand) I would like to die of old age.

Madhana:        (laughing) I would serve you as wife till you body feels that it is quite old for a     woman’s warmth…And then I will serve you as friend till you breathe your last.

Brahma:           I am blessed.

(They hug each other and as the curtain goes down, the smooching sound is heard for a long time.)

(Curtain)

SCENE SIX

(Queen Mother’s chamber. Two exquisitely carved rocking chairs await the arrival of the occupants. Queen Mother and King Deva enter from the same direction and occupy their chairs. The chairs begin to rock.)

Deva:               What is this emergency call for mother?

Mother:           To speak to you the mind of women.

Deva:               I had enough of it from Brahma. Brahma knows the A-Z of women.

Mother:           Brahma! Brahma! Brahma! You’re obsessed with Brahma. You have used the        name ‘Brahma’ twice in just two sentences.

Deva:               (smiling) But Mother, You have used that name five times in just two sentences.    Now tell me who is more obsessed?

Mother:           (bursting into appeal of laughter) Same old mischievous Deva! When are you         going to change yourself? You should not be the same. You got married, you           know!

Deva:               Yes, Mother! I got married. I love my wife. I adore her beauty. I will carry to my grave all the pleasures she allows me as my wife. But I respect my friendship with          Brahma. Who came first into my life? Brahma or Madhana?

Mother:           Don’t prattle, my son! We are destined to pass through several phases in our          lives. Brahma was there in your last phase and that was before your marriage.   Now the present phase of your life has to move on with Madhana. It is time you          sideline Brahma.

Deva:               You mean, keep Brahma at a distance?

Mother:           Good! Keep Brahma at a distance, the moment you enter your bed chamber. Let   him not be a party to all that you are blessed to enjoy in the privacy of your      chamber. Do not even speak of Brahma to your wife.

Deva:               (Aside) How come this old lady know about what went on in my bed chamber,     yester night! Who could have told her? Madhana! Not possible. She could not             have noticed Brahma’s presence when she disrobed. I am not stupid enough to   open my mouth in this matter. Then…certainly it is Brahma. (to Queen Mother)                         What did Brahma tell you?

Mother:           My son! My son! Try to understand. No woman would like her husband to speak oft and again about his friend and waste her time. Continue to keep Brahma as    your advisor in matters pertaining to our kingdom. But once you enter your     chamber, keep your thoughts of Brahma on your shoe stand.

Deva:               Yes, Mother! Now that you have told me what to keep where, I will simply           follow your advice. (aside) I will punish Brahma for his betrayal. He will have to           watch me with my wife, when we are involved in the battle of the flesh. I will        force him watch. Let that pig know what it is to betray me. (to the Queen Mother )           Is that all, my mother?

Mother:           What? I have not yet started.

Deva:               Good Heavens! Then start it now, Mother!

Mother:           Let no husband take his wife as his bond slave. She should be looked upon as his good companion and his better helpmate…She should be treated as an equal   partner in all the joys and sorrows of her husband. Above all, remember that she             has every right to choose her own path as free as her husband.

Deva:               All these Brahma had told me long ago.

Mother:           Women love themselves and so they want to be loved. No woman chooses a man because she loves him but because it pleases her to be loved by him. Of all the             things in the world, every woman loves love and they rarely love men.

Deva:               All these Brahma had told me long ago.

Mother:           A beautiful woman is a treasure. She has to be guarded. Love is the key. Love is    the lock. Love is the gate. I tell you, Love your wife and only her.

Deva:               All these Brahma had told me long ago.

Mother:           (in a spurt of anger) What is it that Brahma didn’t tell you?

Deva:               Men are women’s playthings, woman is the Devils. (The curtain comes down as     the Queen Mother looks daggers at Deva as he makes his exit.)

(Curtain)

SCENE SEVEN

(The Royal library. Just before the sunset. Madhana is pouring over a book. Brahma enters. She continues to read as if she were not aware of his coming. He goes and stands behind her. He then bends over her neck to kiss.)

Madhana:        (turns her head back and startles Brahma) Kissing a woman from the back is as     cowardly as killing a man from his back. And what brought you here?

Brahma:           (moving a couple of steps ahead, he stands facing Madhana. Madhana closes her   book and stands up. Now that they are face to face with each other, they kiss passionately.) Your hot breath on my cheek tells me that you are craving to have    me inside you.

Madhana:        (blushing) Craving for the day when you would send your feeler to see the world inside me.

Brahma:           You speak in symbols. A women’s body is the most perfect of god’s handiwork.

Madhana:        No wonder that in describing beautiful women like me, poets should use the          choicest symbols.

Brahma:           How do you know that I am a poet?

Madhana:        I have read your book of poems that Deva was reading and mugging up. He          wanted to impress me with your poems. But I knew that he had no love for      beauty. The hour I completed reading your book of poems, I identified the poet.   You are kaaladevan, aren’t you?

Brahma:           (Surprised) Yes! I am. But how did…

Madhana:        (interrupting) No questions, please. I have no answers for any of them.       Remember, You Men! A woman can never go wrong in her guesses.

Brahma:           You frighten me.

Madhana:        This is only the beginning.

Brahma:           How would you like to proceed?

Madhana:        That is not my headache. I’ll be yours the moment you make Deva the Devil’s.

Brahma:           What do you want me to do?

Madhana:        Kill Deva. Use any means. See that he is dead. Convince the Queen mother that    Deva’s death was an accident.

Brahma:           Do not teach me the craft of cunning. I have authored a whole book on death. I     know how to kill people without offending their family members. And I have seen    death in all its possible shapes and shades.

Madhana:        You frighten me, now!

Brahma:           This is only the beginning.

Madhana:        How do you plan to kill Deva?

Brahma:           That’s not you headache. Wait and watch…

Madhana:        When you kill Deva, do let him feel the pain of death. He loved my body and not             me. He loved my flesh bound to putrefy and stink one day. He prided in showing it to you, as if I were a trophy won in a chariot race.

Brahma:           But I will be snatching the trophy in a short span of time.

Madhana:        Let it not be more than a few hours. Make it short and quick.

(Curtain)

SCENE EIGHT

(The Market place is found humming with activities. A Town crier enters, beats his tom-tom and announces)

Town crier:      The king is dead; long live the king.   (He allows a few seconds to pause) The king             is dead. Long live the king. (A Passer-by listens sharpening his ears. He goes           near the town Crier.)

Passer-by:        What did you say?

Town crier:      What did I say? I am only told to say so: “The king is dead, long time the king”.

Passer-by:        Now answer me. How dare you wish the king to live long, once the king is dead?

Town crier:      I told you, Sir! I am told to say so. I am only a coolie and I make my living as a     town crier. Allow me to do my job.

Passer-by:        Who forbids you? Don’t blame me for stopping you. You answer me. How did     the king die?

Town crier:      How do I know, Sir! I am paid to say so.

Passer-by:        You know and you do not know. You know the reason but you will not divulge it             in public.

Town crier:      Very sorry. Sir! I am not told the reason for his death. I am only told to announce his death.

Passer-by:        I know the cause of his death.

Town crier:      Then why do you ask me and waste my time, Sir?

Passer-by:        When you die, there will be only one version of the cause. It is true in my case       too. But when a king or a queen dies, there is bound to be a plethora of versions. I    wanted to know your version.

Town crier:      Tell me yours first.

Passer-by:        Yes! Why not? The king died of hatred for his beautiful wife.

Town crier:      Ah, What a reason! So be it. All that I know is that the king died in his sleep.         Now leave me to my work. (Exits)

Passer-by:        Poor king! Let his soul rest in peace. The world is given to understand that the       king didn’t wake up from his deep slumber. But I know…I know…I know. For           fear of me, Brahma will pedestal me to a higher position. For fear of    Brahma, I will carry the secret to my grave.

(Curtain)

 

SCENE NINE

(An open ground that can pass for a graveyard. A crowd of commoners, courtiers, royal personages and their representatives stand in a semicircle around the body of Deva ready to be lowered down into the grave. At the centre of the crowd are seen Queen Mother, the widowed Queen Madhana and Brahma. They all face the audience.)

Brahma:           Friends, friends and friends! You attention please. We have here to consign our     King Deva to flames. We shall always love him and mourn for him. His death is   unexpected as             all premature deaths are. He was a good friend to everyone. He           loved fun, frolic and humour and always sported a smiling face. He smiled              and smiled but was never a villain. See his face at close quarters. He is still             smiling. This is because he is in the Heaven now. Let his soul rest in peace.

Madhana:        Friends and well-wishers of my dead husband! Mourners continue to throng to      this funeral. This only shows the love they have for the dead king. A place     without love is hell on Earth. My husband loved me and I loved him. He loved             Brahma too, his friend and advisor. And so we together had to share the king’s                         love. We were successful in doing so. Today one side of the triangle has fallen       off, leaving the other two dangle in mid-air. But life has to go on till Death reaches its unruly hand for us.

Mother:           My son is dead. (Weep. Brahma and Madhana try to console her by caressing her shoulders. She then wipes her tears.) The king is dead. When a woman is dead, people give one thousand reasons and a reason. But when a man dies, only one      reason is given. His time is over and so he is gone. So let it be. My son is gone.       Our king is gone to the country, no discoverer is able to trace. So let it be.

My aged bones and nerves tell me that I should not take up the responsibility of    ruling this vast kingdom. And so, it is time for me to nominate the ruler.

Time is also ripe enough to divulge a guarded secret. This Brahma, a bosom            friend of my son, is also his half brother. My husband, the senior dead king,    confessed it to me on his death bed. Queens do not experience shocks in matters   pertaining to the infidelity of kings. So let it be.

I pity my daughter-in-law for being widowed in less than a quarter of a year after marriage. But what are we if not chained puppets in the hands of Fate? It has    happened. So let it be.

My daughter-in-law talked of a triangular love, one side of which has fallen off. I wonder why I am left out. Where do I stand then? Where will I go at this ripe old       age? And so for my own safety, I would say, we were a square. It is true that a             side has lost its balance and so could not hold on. It fell off. So let it be.

Now the square has given way to a triangle. I am the base and I will not let the      other two side to lose their balance. You understand what I am talking about?

Yes! I have always treated Brahma on a par with Deva. He is my son too though   they are not uterine brothers. On many occasions Brahma has proved himself     Deva’s equal. Truly, he is blue-blooded. I wish him to be crowned king.

My daughter-in-law will continue to be my daughter-in-law by marrying my only   living son.

Now let the body of my dear departed son be consigned to flames.

(The bier is set to fire and the tongues of fire start consuming the body of Deva.       The crowd in a chorus shouts.)

Crowd:            The king is dead, Long live the king.                                                                                     Long live the new king.                                                                                                  Long live the present queen.                                                                                                               Long live the Queen Mother.

The End

Dr.P.Raja

D-88, Poincare Street,

Olandai Keerapalaym

Pondicherry-605 004

Cell: (0)9443617124

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